Nov 17

Seven Years Ago – I got lucky

Oh thanks Facebook Memories. I saw a pic today from seven years ago of me holding a tarpon from Belize.

There it is. Amazing.

That fish capped of a really wild day of fishing out of El Pescador with my friend Shane from The Fly Shop in Redding.

That tarpon was the final piece of my grand slam, made even more special because it was with my first (and only) permit and my first tarpon.

What a wild day that was. I know, looking back, and I knew at the time, that the biggest factor in all of that coming together was my tremendous skill luck. Really, I had no business tying into a grand slam. My friend Shane certainly did have a claim to one as he’s one of the best anglers I know. He actually hooked both a permit and a tarpon that day (as well a mess of bonefish… it is Belize after all). He already had a grand slam to his name and he is good enough to catch a grand slam on skill.

The permit. Not a big permit, but a permit.

Me? I needed luck.

Now I’m a much better angler than I was back then. I’ve put the time in. My casting is better. My understanding is deeper. I’ve now been spurned by a few permit and understand on a better level than, basically, permit are jerks. I’d be more likely to catch a grand slam on skill now, but back then, it was luck.

I’m OK with that.


Jun 14

Grand Slam from 2010

I was getting out of my car at work today and I noticed my grand slam pin, given to me at El Pescador in Belize on the occasion of my grand slam. I still think about that magical day, the day it all came together. The permit was tiny, the tarpon was a baby, but it all counted just the same.

How many of you have managed to get a grand slam and where did you do it?

And a tarpon makes three.

And a tarpon makes three.

Jan 14

Grand Slam – Bucs and Bones

I watched the “Grand Slam” episode of Buccaneers and Bones last night. It was great to see the show back for another season and it was great to see the familiar cast of characters at El Pescador in Belize.

I’ve been to EP twice, once in 2010 with my friend Shane and in 2012 with my wife for our honeymoon. What can I say? I love that place.



The show itself was fun to watch. Yvon Chouinard gets a grand slam, but gets the finish (the bonefish) out of a mud, something he says he was not very proud of. His permit was a thing of beauty, caught after three casts and complete with the spool falling off his reel. Pretty classic awesomeness.

The permit. Not a big permit, but a permit.

My El Pescador Grand Slam permit. Not a big permit, but a permit.

El Pescador continues to be the best place to get a Grand Slam of any place I’ve heard of. That’s where I got mine, featuring my first ever tarpon and first ever permit. Hard to beat.

There aren’t a lot of options when it comes to flyfishing shows, so it is especially nice to have a show like Buccaneers and Bones featuring people I respect in places I hold dear.

The show is intended to raise awareness of conservation issues and supports the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, which I am very much in favor of.

Oct 13

Why another Grand Slam? Because Merica.

Remember when Derek got a Grand Slam just a couple weeks back? Well, another of the Skinny Water Culture ambassadors did it just a few days ago. This time, it was on a SUP. Chris documented his FL Grand Slam on the Skinny Water Culture blog.

Kiss the girl.

A couple years ago I was in the Miami airport on my way somewhere fishy and I posted that on the blog’s facebook page. I got a message saying “You in MIA? Me too. Where are you?” It was from Chris and so he and I met in the concourse of MIA and talked bonefish for a bit before one of us had to head off somewhere else. It was great to see him get hooked up with the SWC folks and to really come to embrace and rock his new Florida home (he’s originally from Texas).

So, congrats Chris, on your SUP Grand Slam. That’s just awesome.

Sep 13

From the Archives – My -2″ Cuban Grand Slam

(originally published May 9, 2012)

The tarpon was first and that was clearly the pig of the trip.  After we finally released that fish we went looking for some bonefish.

We found them.

Really, I think the guides could likely produce bones pretty much all day, but they like chasing the tarpon when they are in, since they don’t stick around all year and the window is about three months long.

The bones weren’t big, maybe 3 pounds, but they fought well and we even had one little cluster Fuque where I got a knot in my running line that went through the guides.  Jim worked on getting the knot undone and I hand lined the fish, which meant it had PLENTY of slack.  The thing turned around and started swimming leisurely back toward us. The thing came so close to the boat that I just figured I’d wait and pull it’s head out of the water. That’s exactly what happened and we managed to land the bonefish pretty much without the rod.

The next flat we went to was ocean-side and as I got up on deck Jim asked the guide “you ever see any permit here?”

“Sometimes” was the reply, although it should have been “Sure, in about a minute.”

There was Mr. Permit cruising right toward us.  No time to switch rods, the bonefish fly would have to do (a Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp). The fish lit up on the fly, started chasing it down doing a little erratic dance behind it. I SWEAR it ate, as did Jim, but I was tight to the fly and there was never any sort of resistance on the line. Just like that it bugged off and I was left, about 2″ from a Cuban Grand Slam.

Kind of cool to come so close.  I know it is mostly luck and “right time/right place” that gets you those Grand Slams and I was pretty damn close to getting it right.

That’s why we keep fishing.

Photo by Jim Klug, Tarpon by Cuba

Really… I can’t complain at all.



Jul 13

My Florida Relative Grand Slam

I didn’t get a grand slam in Florida. I wasn’t close. However, in a certain light (a very dim and creative light) I did. You just have to look a bit further up the family tree and it all makes a certain amount of self-serving sense.

First off, I caught a bonefish. It was the only bonefish caught on the whole trip and that was largely because I was just about the only one who fished for them and I got a lot lucky.

This monster bone was caught blind casting. Yup. Blind Casting.

The bonefish

The bonefish

Next we come to the Permit. Now… Permit are in the family “Carangidae.” As it happens, I caught a member of that same family… a Lookdown. I also caught a small Jack which I didn’t get a picture of. So, I didn’t get a Permit, but I did catch a relative o the Permit, so, if you round up, well, I practically caught a Permit. Right?

The Permit Relative

The Permit Relative

That brings us to the Tarpon. Tarpon are from the Order “Elopiformes.” You know what else is in that order? Ladyfish. You know who has two thumbs and caught a Ladyfish? Yup, you guessed it. This guy! So, being creative,  you can start to see things in a certain way, if you know what I mean.

The almost Tarpon.

The almost Tarpon.

Is Order too far removed?  Well, I did catch this guy earlier in the day as well with guide Derek Rust.

derek baby tarponSo, you can clearly now see how, with just a bit of Big Bank accounting you can move some numbers from column A to column B and then, Grand Slam.

It was remarkably easy. All I needed to do to get a Grand Slam in FL was to think Out of the Box a bit.


May 13

Little Cayman Grand Slam

Well… not a place I would have expected for someone to log a Grand Slam, but one lucky angler did just that on Little Cayman.

A guest at the Southern Cross Club guest achieved something many fly fisherman only dream about last month when he landed a Permit, a bonefish and a tarpon within a 24 hour period to complete the Little Cayman Grand Slam. Considered the world championship of saltwater fly-fishing, this is the stuff of lore in the shallow flats and beach bars of the island. “I’m pretty excited,” said Schofield from his home in Traverse City, Michigan, “but I’m more excited about catching the Permit than the Grand Slam because you can go your whole life and not catch a Permit on fly.”

The Grand Slam. Pretty cool when it happens. I understand that a Grand Slam comes down to luck, in the end. Usually, it comes down to “Will the permit eat?” I was lucky enough to get a Grand Slam in Belize in 2010 and I was on the short side of one in Cuba in 2012 when the permit followed, but didn’t take the fly. Timing. Skill. Luck. The three pillars of the Grand Slam.

I may never get another, but if I do, I hope it comes with a bigger permit.

Permit.  Not a world record, but a frigging permit!

Permit. Not a world record, but a frigging permit!

Aug 11

I like awesomeness. How bout you?

I know, I put up a video from Will Benson juuuuuuusssst the other day.  Thing is, I have to post this one too.  I have to post this because it is a whole bunch of awesome.

Props to Will for tagging both the permit and the bonefish.

Now, I managed to get a grand slam down in Belize. However, this now looks like a very, very minor accomplishment compared to Will doing it 1. all by myself, and 2. catching it all on film, and 3. putting it together in a kind of awesome video.

Mad, crazy props to Will at World Angling.

When I was first looking at catching a bonefish in Grand Bahama, I actually got to talk to either Will or Dave from World Angling before my trip.  Whoever I talked to had some ideas for me, suggested the guide I used.  I had no idea at the time they possessed the mad, crazy skills they do.

Mar 11

Grand Slam Reflections… The Tarpon

The final installment of my Grand Slam Reflections.  The Getting There. The Permit The Bonefish.

The Tarpon

We had been at the point of the caye for a while when Katchu looked at his watch and said “If we want to get your Grand Slam, we better go now.”

It was then I realized that this might actually happen. It had been running through the back of my mind since I got the permit. I had two of three in the books, so it was conceivable at the very least, but it still sounded a tad ridiculous. We got back in the boat and headed off in search of tarpon.

Five minutes after getting back in the boat we found ourselves weaving along an ancient mangrove lined canal carved by the Mayans thousands of years ago. To our left was Mexico, to our right was Belize. Bait and boils were everywhere… this was clearly a very fishy place. There is something amazingly cool about going through mangrove lined channels in a boat in pursuit of fish.

We reached a small, enclosed lagoon and Katchu killed the engine and poled us into position. I got up on deck needing only a tarpon to complete the Grand Slam. We were going after ‘baby tarpon” which was a good thing since I had royally botched my first ever adult tarpon grab the day before. I was 0/1 for tarpon in my life.

Shane spotted a tarpon heading into the mangroves. There was no cast to make. We waited. Out of the mangroves and 40 feet from the boat emerged five “baby” tarpon. These fish were 30-60 pounds. I suddenly felt very unprepared.

I made the cast and gave some strips to the black cockroach. One of the tarpon attacked it. It just swam up to it and opened its gaping mouth and inhaled the fly. When you haven’t done this a lot a tarpon eat can make you instantly stupid. I set, still in disbelief and a bit awestruck. It felt a little more believable when I then raised the rod tip and the fly parted ways with the tarpon. I was now 0/2.

Despite just botching the job, the fish were still there and it looked like they wanted to eat. I cast again. I stripped again. The damn fish charged the fly and ate it hard. I set (at least twice), I kept the rod down. This fly wasn’t coming out. The fish, however, decided to split and charged into the mangroves. The fish was out of sight, but I was still attached to it. As I stood there, a little dumbfounded, the tarpon shot back out into the lagoon ten feet from where it had disappeared. It jumped about 5 feet in the air, still attached to the fly line which was now hopelessly wrapped around the mangroves. When the fish jumped I got a really good view of how big it really was and I’d put it at about 40 pounds of pure silver fury. The tarpon splashed down and zipped right back into the mangroves to complete a nice wrap around several mangrove limbs and, predictably, the tugging stopped. I was off the fish and had to break off the fly. I was now 0/3 on tarpon.

While I was re-rigging Shane got on deck. These baby tarpon were in a very playful mood and it wasn’t long before Shane had fish to cast to. He made the cast and the fish smashed it. This baby tarpon was around forty pounds and, just like the permit earlier in the day, the tarpon spit the hook. If it were another day, Shane would have stayed on the deck, but this had turned from a normal day to a possible Grand Slam Day. I was going to be up again.

My hands still trembling, I continued to re-rig as we entered a narrow, nearly fully enclosed mangrove chute. This was a one shot stop as the chute dead-ended just 50 feet in front of us. Katchu knew these waters very well and as we entered the small clearing we found a single tarpon milling about. With mangroves behind and to the right of me I had to cast off shoulder, but somehow I made the cast. I stripped the fly. The fish saw it. He charged. I kept stripping. He ate as I had just finished a long strip and I had no way to move the fly but to sweep the rod tip. I was now 0/4 as the fly came out of the fishes mouth.

I stood there shell-shocked, having just missed the third tarpon that would have given me a Grand Slam. The fish, however, was still interested. While I had pulled the fly away from the fish, the fly was still in the water and near the fish. I stripped. He ate. I set. I set again. I set again. I didn’t raise the rod tip. I didn’t let the fish run into the mangroves. I held the line hard with my stripping hand and the 15 pound class tippet held to the 60 pound shock tippet. The fish jumped. Now… I’m 6’3” and was probably at least 2 feet above the water on the casting deck. The fish jumped over my head, an image that will forever be seared into my memory. Somehow, deep in my brain, a couple of cells fired and I reactivity bowed to the king. The fish stayed on.

Quickly the fish was in. I had just completed an Inshore Grand Slam by landing my first tarpon ever on the heals of landing my first ever permit.

For a job well done.

A special thanks to El Pescador for hosting Shane and I for three days of fantastic fishing and story making.  You guys have a first class operation there.


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Mar 11

Grand Slam Reflections… The Bonefish

After getting there and getting the permit and now…

The Bonefish

The bonefish were easy, at least when we had the light. We were playing a school of bones that really, really wanted to cruise past us. All we had to do was cast a line ahead of the school and they would turn around, head down the beach about 50 feet and then slowly come back to us. They just kept coming back and we just kept catching them, trading off on the bow and having a great time.


bonefish... lots of 'em.

As Shane was up on deck things got suddenly very tense as the guide spotted a school of permit just beyond the bones while Shane simultaneously spotted three or four permit mixed right in with the bones. Katchu was saying “Cast! No, not that school, the other ones!” while Shane was saying “I don’t want to cast to that school! I’m going to cast to this school!” The debate was a tad heated and Shane ended up casting to the fish he had found. He made the cast, made the strip and the fish ate. He stood there, relaxed and happy as the fish peeled off line at top speed. Then the pull just stopped. The line went slack. The fish had come off.

Shane... hookset.

Shane didn’t understand it. I didn’t understand it. Katchu said something about “you must have hooked it just a tiny bit,” although I don’t know why you’d say that to an angler who has just lost a decent permit. For whatever reason, Shane’s permit didn’t stay on. Another 20 minutes of looking in vain for more permit and we were ready to get back to the bonefish.

Katchu finally took us to the point of a little cay we were fishing and presented us our opportunity to wade. We could see bonefish milling around over a rare patch of white sand below the point of the cay. This was going to be fun. Shane set off to find his own fish, which really is when he’s the happiest. The guide wanted to reposition him but I told him just to let him fish. He continued on his own and his rod was bent plenty.

We could have stayed there caught bonefish for a good long time. The fish weren’t monsters, but bonefish in Belize don’t tend to be scale tippers. What they lack in size they make up for in numbers and we were finding enough bones to keep us interested. It is this kind of action that really draws me to bonefish. When you are finding the fish and they fish are happy, there are few other things I’d want to do more.

I was told that fish in Belize grow slower than fish in other parts of the Caribbean and the current thinking is that this has to do with the size of their prey. The crabs and shrimp are smaller in Belize when compared with Andros or Abaco and so the fish grow at a slower rate. That four pound bonefish in Belize is probably a bit smarter than the four pound bonefish in Grand Bahama because it is likely a couple years older. The smaller prey phenomena has impacts when you are looking at what flies to pack as you’ll be filling your box with more #6’s and #8’s than you might for other Caribbean destinations.

Bones in Belize are different in another way. They tend to be darker in color and there is no surprise why that would be the case. Turtle grass is almost everywhere down in Belize, waving in the tidal currents and snagging your flies if you don’t have weed guards. If you love wading over hard packed white sand flats… well… you should probably go somewhere else.

The bonefish were really what I had come to Belize to find. Ever since I had seen my first bonefish back in Hawaii a few years earlier, I had been fairly obsessed with them. Coming from a small river/pocket water background, I was enthralled with the hunting and visual nature of flats fishing which was such a departure from what I had come to think of as fly fishing. Going from a thousand casts a day to forty casts a day and from never seeing the target to only targeting those fish you see… it was a revelation and a beautiful one at that.

Next up… The Tarpon.